§ The QUEEN'S SPEECH reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
THE MARQUESS OF HUNTLY
My Lords, I rise to move that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in Answer to her Most Gracious Speech. I venture to ask your Lordships' indulgence in discharging the duty which I have undertaken. I trust that any errors I may be guilty of may be laid to my want of experience, and that your Lordships will look upon my shortcomings with a lenient eye. I am sure your Lordships will have heard with regret of the recent indisposition of Her Majesty. I am happy to be informed that there is nothing serious in Her Majesty's illness, but that she has been suffering an amount of 8 pain and discomfort which made it medically impossible for her to execute her gracious intention to open such an important Session of Parliament.
The existing relations of this country with Foreign Powers must necessarily be a source of gratification to your Lordships. It is obvious that the words of Her Majesty's Speech must refer to the satisfactory settlement of the questions concerning Belgium, Turkey, and Egypt—which might have led to serious consequences, if it had not been for the judicious policy of the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs, and the conciliatory disposition evinced by the other great Powers.
I regret that the settlement of the questions between this country and America which had been agreed to in London has not been ratified by the United States Government, and that up to the present time the differences have not received a favourable solution. But it is to be hoped that under the guidance of the noble Lord they will be satisfactorily adjusted, and it is gratifying to behold that on both sides of the Atlantic the feeling exists that it is important for two such powerful countries to be in harmony.
The most important subject in Her Majesty's Speech is the Land Question of Ireland. I venture to state that there is a general feeling, which will be shared in by your Lordships, that the time has arrived for the settlement of this question—it is one which ought not to be treated as a party question. It is clear beyond all doubt that the present state of things cannot be allowed to continue, and abundant evidence can be adduced to prove the necessity for immediate legislation. Although there may be many cases in which the landlord has behaved liberally towards his tenantry still there is a multiplication of testimony disclosed before Parliamentary tribunals, and from other sources of information, which establishes beyond a doubt the crying necessity for a well-defined measure for the protection of the occupier of the land. In considering the present position of Ireland as regards the occupancy of the land, it must be admitted that a glaring anomaly exists when one considers the tenant-right of Ulster, and the absence of such right in the south and other parts of Ireland. Without wearying your Lordships I would remind you of the cruel and arbitrary manner in which the proprietor of the Ballycohey property 9 exercised his legal rights over the tenantry. As to the mode of dealing with the question practically I have no doubt that the measure which will be brought before Parliament by Her Majesty's Government will be just to both landlord and tenant, and Her Majesty's Government ought not to be deterred from bringing in such a measure, although it may not meet the views of unreasonable individuals. I feel that it is my painful duty to call your Lordships' attention to the frequent occurrence of outrages in Ireland. I am assured by the concluding paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech that the Government are fully determined to adopt every proper measure for the suppression of agrarian crime and conspiracy, and for upholding the supremacy of the law. It is to be hoped that the condition of Ireland will not continue in its present state; and it is the duty of all classes to assist the Government in putting the law in force. Your Lordships will be of opinion that the time has arrived for the introduction of an efficient measure for the education of the people. I am unaware of the nature of the measure to be introduced by Her Majesty's Government, but I trust that it will be a solution of the difficulties which surround the consideration of this important question. I cannot refrain from bearing my humble testimony to the valuable services rendered by the clergy throughout the country, in connection with the education of the labouring classes, but what the country requires is a thoroughly national system of education, to remove the ignorance in which the masses of the people live, and above all, such an extension of that system as will reach the vagrant classes. The introduction of an efficient measure for enlarging the means of education will have the effect of improving the condition of the country, of elevating the morals of the people, and of diminishing the occurrence of crime. It must always be a matter of deep interest to your Lordships—the organization of the Departments connected with the Services, and, I doubt not, that the measure to be introduced by the Government for their re-organization, will tend to their increased efficiency, and, at the same time, to a diminution of taxation. It cannot be denied that economy and efficiency are not incompatible. In consequence of negotiations between the 10 United States and this country, it is proposed to change the existing law of Naturalization for the convenience of the citizens of foreign countries. The Speech makes reference to measures affecting the Courts of judicature in England; and it is proposed to make extensive alterations, which will, no doubt, tend to the improvement of the administration of justice. The proposal in Her Majesty's Speech for the introduction of a measure relating to University Tests is satisfactory, inasmuch as the question has been discussed in Parliament over and over again, and there exists throughout the country a strong desire for an effectual and final settlement of this vexed and long agitated question. The other measures referred to in Her Majesty's Speech are grave questions, which will require the exercise of impartial judgment, and will doubtless be considered by your Lordships with the care and thought which they demand. It is useless for me to enter into their merits, which must depend upon the measures themselves.
My Lords, there has been, and, no doubt, is now, much distress in different parts of the country, but trade is gradually improving itself. It appears more than probable that that depression will gradually disappear; and one test of the improved condition of the country is the satisfactory state of the revenue, as alluded to in Her Majesty's Speech. My Lords, Her Majesty's Government do not appear to have shrunk from presenting a large number of measures to Parliament, notwithstanding the importance and difficulties of some of them. I can only hope that that which I heard so strongly expressed in this House last year, and which was reported by a joint Committee of both Houses—namely, that a certain portion of Bills should be introduced at an early period into your Lordships' House, will not be neglected by Her Majesty's Government.
I must thank your Lordships for the indulgence you have shown to me, while briefly touching upon the most important points of Her Majesty's Speech. It is impossible not to feel how much depends upon the wisdom with which, in both Houses of Parliament, the different questions may be considered during the coming Session; and I cannot doubt that all political parties will join in Her Majesty's prayer that their labours may be 11 constantly attended by the blessing of Almighty God. the noble Marquess concluded by moving an humble Address to Her Majesty, in Answer to Her Majesty's most Gracious Speech, as follows:—MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious Speech which Your Majesty has commanded to be made to both Houses of Parliament, and to express our sincere regret that recent indisposition has prevented Your Majesty from meeting us in person on this occasion.We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that the friendly sentiments which are entertained in all quarters towards this country, and which Your Majesty cordially reciprocates, the growing disposition to resort to the good offices of allies in cases of international difference, and the conciliatory spirit in which several such cases have recently been treated and determined, encourage Your Majesty's confidence in the continued maintenance of the general tranquillity.We humbly thank Your Majesty for directing that papers shall be laid before us with reference to recent occurrences in New Zealand.We humbly assure Your Majesty that our most earnest attention will be given to any measure that may be brought before us with a view to amend the laws respecting the occupation and acquisition of land in Ireland, in a manner adapted to the peculiar circumstances of that country, and calculated, as Your Majesty believes, to bring about improved relations between the several classes concerned in Irish agriculture, which collectively constitute the great bulk of the people. We humbly share Your Majesty's confidence that these provisions will tend to inspire among persons with whom such sentiments may still be wanting, that steady confidence in the law and that desire to render assistance in its effective administration which mark Your Majesty's subjects in general; and thus will aid in consolidating the fabric of the Empire.We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that among many subjects of public importance which appear to demand our care, a Bill has been prepared for the enlargement, on a comprehensive scale, of the means of National Education.We humbly thank Your Majesty for acquainting us that in fulfilment of an engagement to the Government of the United States, a Bill will be proposed to us for the purpose of defining the status of subjects or citizens of foreign countries who may desire naturalization, and of aiding 12 them in the attainment of that object, and further that we shall be invited to consider Bills, prepared in compliance with the Report of the Commission on Courts of Judicature, for the improvement of the constitution and procedure of the superior tribunals of both original and appellate jurisdiction.We humbly assure Your Majesty that we share Your Majesty's opinion that some satisfactory legislative settlement should be effected of the question of religious tests in the Universities and Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, which may contribute to extend the usefulness of these great institutions, and to heighten the respect with which they are justly regarded.We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Bills have been prepared for extending the incidence of rating, and for placing the collection of the large sums locally raised for various purposes on a simple and uniform footing.We humbly assure Your Majesty of our readiness to undertake the amendment of the laws which regulate the grant of licences for the sale of fermented and spirituous liquors.We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that measures will also be brought under our consideration for facilitating the transfer of land, for regulating the succession to real property in case of intestacy, for amending the laws as to the disabilities of members of trade combinations, and for both consolidating and improving the body of statutes which relate to merchant shipping.We humbly assure Your Majesty that we participate in the painful concern with which Your Majesty has announced to us the recent extension of agrarian crime in several parts of Ireland, together with its train of accompanying evils.We humbly thank Your Majesty for acquainting us that the Executive Government has employed freely the means at its command for the prevention of outrage, and a partial improvement may be observed; but that although the number of offences, within this class of crime, has been by no means so great as at some former periods, the indisposition to give evidence in aid of the administration of justice has been alike remarkable and injurious.Humbly trusting with Your Majesty for the removal of these evils to the permanent operation of wise and necessary changes in the law. We shall be prepared for the adoption of special provisions, should such a policy appear during the course of the Session to be required by the paramount interest of peace and order.We humbly assure Your Majesty that we fervently join in Your Majesty's prayer that our labours may be constantly attended by the blessing of Almighty God.
THE EARL OF FINGALL
Before I proceed to second the Address, which has been so ably and so effectively proposed by the young and noble Marquess beside me. I would ask forgiveness of that noble Lord, if I, who until this night, was a perfect stranger to him, should take it upon myself to anticipate the congratulations of his friends, and I think I may also say the favourable comments of the general public, by offering him ray congratulations on his very neat and appropriate speech, and by wishing him a long and successful career of public utility, for which he has shown such very promising talent.
My Lords, when I undertook to second the Address to Her Majesty, which has been thus ably proposed by the noble Marquess. I felt that I owed the distinction which is conferred upon me to no claim or merit of my own, but to the peculiar position which I occupy in your Lordships' House; I may almost presume to call it a sort of representative position. I am, my Lords, one of a very small body. We are, I think, but six of us in all, who by community of religion, may be said more particularly and more intimately to represent the feelings and the interests of a considerable number of Her Majesty's subjects, the Roman Catholics of Ireland. My Lords, I am fully alive to the responsibility which this position imposes upon me, and I am deeply sensible of the honour of being brought thus prominently forward at the opening of this Session, which promises to be so interesting to Irishmen and so important to Irish interests. The only one drawback to the feeling of pride and satisfaction, with which I rise to address your Lordships, is a fear that Irish interests may suffer in your Lordships' estimation from not being committed to abler hands than mine. But, my Lords, though I may prove but a poor exponent of Irish feeling, and a feeble advocate of Irish interests, I yield to none, my Lords, in a desire to give prosperity to my country, and to bring our people into more harmonious relations with the rest of Her Majesty's subjects.
Her Majesty expresses her regret that she is unable to meet your Lordships, and to open Parliament in person. We must all share in this regret, my Lords, and we must feel it the more, from the knowledge that ill-health is the cause 14 of Her Majesty's absence; but, my Lords, we must hope that this indisposition may be both slight and temporary, and we must pray that Her Majesty may be long spared to us, to continue for many years to come, a reign which up to now has been one uninterrupted course of honour, of wisdom, and of progress.
My Lords, I shall not trespass on your Lordships' time by any observations of mine upon several of the topics referred to in Her Majesty's Speech: but I shall proceed at once to tread upon ground where I shall feel myself to be more at home—It will be proposed to you to amend the laws respecting the occupation and acquisition of land in Ireland, in a manner adapted to the peculiar circumstances of that country, and calculated, as Her Majesty believes, to bring about improved relations between the several classes concerned in Irish agriculture, which collectively constitute the great bulk of the people. These provisions when matured by your impartiality and wisdom, as Her Majesty trusts, will tend to inspire among persons with whom such sentiments may still be wanting, that steady confidence in the law and that desire to render assistance in its effective administration which mark Her subjects in general; and thus will aid in consolidating the fabric of the Empire.I would ask your Lordships to face this question in a liberal spirit. I, my Lords, who make this request of you, have everything at stake in this Irish land question. Many noble Lords around me have much more extensive possessions, and vastly greater rent-rolls; but it is not everyone of those noble Lords, who like me, live by Irish land, and by Irish land alone. Of course there are several of your Lordships, who, like myself, are Irish landlords, and nothing else. To those noble Lords I would more particularly appeal, and I would ask them to join cordially with the rest of your Lordships' House, in giving their consent to such a reform of the land laws as will give security and contentment to the tenant, and thereby, as I hope and pray, peace and prosperity to Ireland. And we, my Lords, whose lot is inseparably bound up with Ireland, must, in my opinion, be benefited by whatever conduces to the general welfare of that country—Recent extension of agrarian crime in several parts of Ireland, with its train of accompanying evils, has filled Her Majesty with painful concern.My Lords, it is with sorrow and with shame I say it that there is only too much 15 ground for the regret that Her Majesty expresses in this paragraph. I have already, my Lords, asked you to deal in a liberal spirit with the Land Question, and I am rejoiced to find that Her Majesty places her chief reliance for the settlement of Ireland upon measures of conciliation; but should these unfortunately fail, and should crime and outrage still continue, they must at least cease to go unpunished, and I am pleased to hear that Her Majesty will not hesitate to recommend the adoption of "special provisions, should such a policy appear during the course of the Session to be required by the paramount interest of peace and order." The preservation of peace and order, my Lords, is the first condition of civilization, the first necessity of all good government. Before all things the laws must be respected; where life is not secure there can be no prosperity. But, my Lords, let us hope that the necessity for these repressive measures may not arise, let us look forward more cheerfully to the future, and let us hope that better days may yet be in store for Ireland. I admit, my Lords, that appearances are not re-assuring, and that the past few months have not been all that a well-wisher of Ireland and a loyal subject of the Crown would desire to see. But, my Lords, I am one of those who hope that the worst is now over. In the last Session of Parliament your Lordships gave your sanction to a measure of grace, which showed your disposition to moot the wishes of the greater portion of the people of Ireland, and to do them an act of justice, which apparently trenched upon the privileges of the more favoured minority. Believe me, my Lords, that act of grace and justice has been deeply felt and fully appreciated by the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Notwithstanding all that has been said and done since last Session, I dare venture to express my conviction that, when that great concession shall have been crowned by a generous and comprehensive reform of the laws between landlord and tenant, that Ireland will settle down, that we shall have quiet and contentment in that country, that we shall feel our interests to be so completely bound up with your interests that we shall all become a happy and a united people, and a source of pride and strength to the British Empire. The noble Earl concluded by seconding the Address.
§ LORD CAIRNS
My Lords, at no time and under no circumstances, as it seems to me, could any question arise with respect to our assent to the first part of this Address, and your Lordships, I have no doubt, will unanimously join in carrying to the foot of the Throne the expression of your deep regret on the announcement of Her Majesty's recent indisposition, and of your fervent desire and prayer that She may speedily be restored to that health and vigour which have always been devoted to the benefit of her subjects. My Lords, I am not much surprised that both the noble Marquess who moved the Address and the noble Earl who seconded it found in the Speech of the Royal Commissioners but little to claim attention with the exception of the one prominent paragraph on which they both enlarged. In fact, this Speech is not without a certain singularity as regards topics which sometimes—and indeed more generally—are referred to in these compositions, but which are here omitted. The circumstance that only a few lines are devoted to Foreign Affairs cannot, I think, be deemed otherwise than grateful to your Lordships, inasmuch as it leads us to the belief that there is nothing whatever connected with foreign affairs which can be other than a subject of congratulation to this country. But with regard to our colonial interests the case is somewhat different; and I own that for my part, having regard to events which have occurred since last we met, to opinions which have been expressed, and to desires which we know are largely entertained in some parts of our colonial possessions, I should have been well pleased if some notice had been taken of the existence and circumstances of our Colonies, if only for the purpose of showing those important territories that their well-being, their prosperity, their attachment to the mother country, are not and never can be subjects of indifference to the Parliament of the Empire. With regard to another subject, I think the noble Marquess who moved the Address exercised, perhaps, a more correct judgment than those who framed the Address itself. He referred to a matter of which I should have been glad to have seen some notice in the Speech—the distress and destitution prevalent in this country at the present time to a very considerable 17 extent. I am not one of those who think that such distress and destitution—I hope of a temporary nature—can be met effectually and removed by Acts of Parliament; but it has always been the custom—and I think a right and proper custom—that when Parliament assembles and distress prevails notice should be taken of it, if it were only for the purpose of assuring the sufferers that their distress is understood and that sympathy is felt for them.
My Lords, passing from these topics which are not found in the Speech, I turn to those which are mentioned in it. We are told that a measure on the subject of Education is to be laid before Parliament. Now, I rejoice to think that that subject is one upon which, though we may differ as to the means, we can entertain no difference of opinion as to the desirability of the end to be attained; and I am willing to express a sanguine hope that, the same object being in the minds of both sides of the House, the Session may not pass over without the passing of a large and comprehensive measure for the improvement of education. I must take notice that, from no Bill being spoken of, it would appear that it is not the intention of the Government to introduce a measure on the subject of education in Scotland, or to propose any legislation with regard to education in Ireland. I notice these matters merely because they are subjects of great interest, and because I feel assured your Lordships would desire every information on the point which it may be in the power of the Government to give. The Speech invites us to consider a measure with regard, to the important subject of Naturalization, which has already been inquired into by a Royal Commission. That, I have no doubt, is a subject which is entirely ripe for legislation; and I only venture to add an expression of regret that I do not observe the same notice as to the recommendations of the Commission which sat lately upon the Laws of Neutrality. I am rather surprised it is not thought possible to embody in a measure their very judicious and moderate suggestions on that subject. Upon the question of the improvement of our Courts of judicature I am glad to see—for I take some personal interest in the subject, having had the honour of acting as Chairman of 18 the Commission—that its recommendations are to become the subject of legislation. The noble Marquess referred—and the Speech also refers—to the subject of University Tests. Now, whatever opinions may be entertained on that subject, I am extremely glad that the measure has passed into the hands of the Government, and is to be proposed as a Government measure. It is a measure of such importance that I think it ought not to be left in private hands; and coming, as it is about to do, into the hands of the Government, I hope that that will not occur which occurred last year, when the Bill came up at such a period that it was impossible for your Lordships to consider its provisions, and yon were obliged to adjourn it by moving "the previous Question." Passing over the subjects of Rating and Licences, I must be allowed to express my satisfaction at the statement that a measure is to be proposed for the purpose of facilitating the transfer of Land. Most of your Lordships are interested in land, and I have always entertained the opinion—and have entertained it strongly—that there I are no persons so deeply interested in promoting facilities for the transfer of laud as the owners of land themselves. We are told also that we shall have to consider a measure for regulating the succession to Real Property in cases of intestacy. My Lords, I was under the impression that the succession to real property in cases of intestacy was already regulated by law; but, without dwelling upon verbal criticism, we shall, no doubt, be told at the proper time what the meaning of that somewhat obscure paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech really is.
These, my Lords, are, I think, all the topics referred to in the Speech, with the exception of the paragraphs which relate to Ireland. With regard to the first of those paragraphs, we are told that it will be proposed to us to amend the laws respecting the occupation and acquisition of land in Ireland. My Lords, I am always unwilling to stop for the purpose of verbal criticism, and I certainly was never more disposed to rejoice that, in acceding to an Address in answer to a Speech, we are not supposed to commit ourselves either to the somewhat questionable grammar or the very singular diction in which some parts of 19 the Speech, are framed. But I would observe upon this paragraph that I was not aware that there are at present any law or laws in Ireland respecting the acquisition of land, with the exception of those laws which are generally styled the laws of supply and demand—the laws of political economy—as to which I will venture to express a hope that the Government do not think they will be able to amend those particular laws. As to a measure respecting the occupation of land, I certainly think it would be entirety out of place to anticipate the character of that measure, or to follow some of the observations made by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Huntly) upon what he thinks the state of evidence on the subject of occupation. I quite concur with his observation that the proper time to enter into that subject will be when the measure is introduced, and I venture to hope that when introduced it will be found commensurate with the gravity and importance of the subject. But I turn to that which is of more pressing interest—the paragraphs of the Speech with regard to the present state of Ireland. Those paragraphs certainty—I have read them more than once—have filled me with considerable surprise. They tell us that agrarian crime in Ireland has greatly increased. They tell us that agrarian crime in Ireland has diminished. They tell us that there have been former periods in the history of Ireland when agrarian crime has been greater than even at the present moment. They tell us that the Executive Government has used all the powers which were confided to it for the purpose of repressing crime and outrage in Ireland; they tell its that all the powers which have been confided to the Executive Government for the purpose of repressing crime and outrage in Ireland have been used, but used in vain. They tell us that the Executive Government will not hesitate to apply to Parliament for the purpose of obtaining greater powers if it should be thought necessary; they tell us that it is necessary to obtain greater powers, because the present powers are insufficient; but they tell us finally that the Government do not apply to Parliament for greater powers. Now, as we all know, a Cabinet is a composite body, and we know that the members of a Cabinet may fairly be expected to look upon the 20 same subject from different points of view. Indeed, it is not unreasonable that there should be a certain amount of contribution to the Royal Speech from the different members of the Cabinet; but I have always understood that it was the great duty of the master-builder of the Speech so to harmonize these contributions that these marks of composite work should be, as carefully as may be, obliterated from the finished performance. I am afraid that that duty has not been successfully discharged on the present occasion. I think even that without much difficulty we may imagine ourselves present at the composition of the Speech. I can fancy that when the earlier paragraphs were completed it occurred to some member of the Cabinet—"Well, but before we finish surety we must say something with regard to the present condition of Ireland;"—whereupon a paragraph was inserted by which Her Majesty was made to express her regret at the recent extension of agrarian crime. "Oh! but" remonstrates the Chief Secretary, "that won't do; things are not quite so bad as you represent them—almost forty-eight hours have passed without a murder; therefore you must qualify that statement, and represent the condition of things as not quite so bad as is supposed." "Well, then," says the Prime Minister, "put in a small paragraph to say things are improving;"—and accordingly the paragraph is put in, but unfortunately put in with such rapidity that it remains doubtful whether the partial improvement has occurred in the state of the country or in the activity of the Executive. But then, some other Member of the Cabinet, probably the noble Earl who presides over the education of the country, and is of an historical turn of mind, says—"There was a rebellion in '98, and another rebellion of a smaller kind in '48. Why should not we remind the public that Ireland is not quite in the state in which it has been before?" Accordingly a small paragraph is inserted to say that things have been worse at other times. Well—but then the Chief Secretary thinks some credit ought to be given to the Executive, and that it must not be supposed they are to blame for anything which has occurred. Accordingly, he wishes it said that the Executive have done their best to repress crime and out- 21 rage in Ireland—and a paragraph to that effect is added. But some Minister of a logical turn of mind—I dare say the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for it is exactly what he would say—remarks, "If you hare done all you can, and cannot repress it, why not ask for further powers?" But then, the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade say—"What, ask Parliament for measures of coercion—we who came into office upon a protest against measures of coercion? It would be fatal to us as a Government which was to bring a message of peace to Ireland." Accordingly, the absurdity of the position is realized, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is silenced. But then, the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary says—"We are the laughing-stock of Europe. Every Minister in every Court in Europe is asking us what we are going to do with Ireland, and whether we are able to govern the country or not." At last, some one suggests—"We will reconcile that, and say if it should be necessary we will ask for further powers." Accordingly, the views of all the different Ministers are fully represented in the Royal Commissioners' Speech, and the Speech becomes the extraordinary composition we have heard road.
Now, I must say I agree with the noble Earl the Seconder of the Address that the present state of Ireland is not merely very sad, but very shameful. I find that the gentleman who prepares the official statistics of the state of crime in Ireland, Dr. Hancock, than whom no person is more competent to speak on the subject, says with regard to the first six months of last year—From information on the subject collected by the police I may state that the number of agrarian outrages specially reported in 1868 was loss than in any of the last twenty years, except 1866 and 1867. The great increase in these outrages has been in 1869: as indicated by the latest returns, which are for the first half of the year, 169 agrarian outrages have been reported during this period, which is double the number (eighty-seven) in the same half of 1868, and four times the number (forty-three) in 1866, and greater than in any year since 1855, except the years of pressure, 1862 and 1863.My Lords, important as the statistics on the subject are, the statistics, it appears to me, by no means represent the whole extent and gravity of the position. I have looked at the annals of what I may call the delicta majora for the year 1869—I 22 have not seen the catalogue for the beginning of the present year, but they have not been infrequent—I have put aside all minor offences, threatening letters, threatening visits, disturbances without loss of life, and I find that taking greater offences alone, such as murder, mutilation, burglarious entry into houses and abstraction of arms, riots attended with loss of life, the number of offences in the reports for 1869 amounts to fifty-nine, and out of those there were no less than eighteen assassinations. Well, that is bad enough, but it is not the worst part of the case. What I think is by far the worst feature of the case is that out of those fifty-nine cases—so far as I know and am able to discover, there is only one of them in which any person has been brought to justice for the crime committed. For one a man was tried. It is stated that there was considerable difficulty in obtaining a jury to serve; that the evidence against the prisoner was clear and distinct; that the half-murdered man appeared in court, and was hooted because he identified the prisoner as the person who had attacked him; that the judge, who was supposed to have summed up in favour of a conviction, was insulted by the mob; that one of the jurors who was supposed to have been favourable to a conviction was obliged to run for his life and take shelter in a police barrack; and the jury of course disagreed and there was no conviction. That is the only case, as far as I know, in which any man was brought to justice out of those fifty-nine cases, and in that there was no conviction. Well, I repeat that the statistics are not the worst feature of the case; the worst part of it is, as it seems to me, the effect which these things have had over the face of the country. These are the cases where the disposition to crime and outrage crops out; but in addition to this there underlies the whole surface of society, a substratum of dissatisfaction and proneness to outrage, of which statistics give us no idea. I read not many days ago a statement—not made for any political purpose—by the Dublin correspondent of The Times to this effect—Threatening letters and notices warning tenants not to pay rent are exciting alarm in Westmeath and other counties. The attempt to intimidate is not confined to landlords and agents, but is extended to other classes. A few days ago 23 a member of the Inner Bar, who also holds a judicial office, received a letter threatening him with the same death as his client if he ventured to argue a question pending in the superior courts between a landlord and a tenant. In many instances persons who receive threatening letters conceal the fact lest their friends should be needlessly alarmed, and from a belief that there is no use in giving information to the police.About the same time I observed in another journal among the records of the Courts at Dublin this very singular notice. It was as follows:—A simple motion made yesterday in the Court of Exchequer attracts attention by the singularity of its heading in the legal reports of this morning's papers—'—v.—.' It was merely an application to substitute service of a summons and plaint in ejectment by sending a copy to the defendant's address through the Post-office, and advertising it in the local journal. But the circumstances which rendered the application necessary, as disclosed in the statements of the plaintiff's counsel, give a truer picture of the lamentable condition of the country, the paralysis of the law, and the utter subversion of all the feelings of right and justice in the minds of the agricultural population, than any number of sensational orations. The defendant holds a farm, in which he has no legal interest, and for which he refuses to pay rent. The landlord has offered him £200 for giving up peaceable possession, which he refuses to do, and the owner of the soil can get neither rent nor land. He is, therefore, obliged to institute legal proceedings for the recovery of possession, but is stopped in limine by a formidable difficulty—such is the state of feeling in the country that no process-server or bailiff—and those who follow this dangerous and unpopular avocation in Ireland are a shrewd, crafty, and daring class of men—can be induced to serve the process, although large remuneration has been offered for the discharge of the duty. The presiding judges (the Chief Baron and Baron Deasy) reserved their decision on the motion, wishing to consult their learned brethren on so exceptional a case, and for the sake of the landlord on whose behalf the motion was made it was considered prudent not to allow the names of the parties, or that of the locality, nor even of the county in which it is situated, to transpire in court. Hence the anonymous beading under which the report appears.My Lords, a statement has been made to me, on authority which I cannot doubt, that it was desired the other day to have a property in the South of Ireland surveyed. Application was made to an eminent surveyor in Dublin to go down in the usual way and make the survey; but he replied that it would be as much as his life was worth, and he would do nothing of the kind. The same letter tells me that an estate being put up for sale in the Landed Estates Court at Dublin, the Judge said that he would not allow the sale, for it was idle to 24 suppose that in the present state of Ireland any sale of the kind could take place with fairness. Again, I read in a newspaper, which vouches both for the respectability and for the means of information of the gentleman who makes the statement, although, for the reason to which I have just referred, the names are not given, and sometimes not the locality, the following:—The reign of terror has been completely established in the county Meath. Five respective farmers in the parish of Athboy found, on Monday morning, the 31st of January, a grave dug in the centre of one of their fields, and a part of the field dug up and marked for potato ridges. A threatening letter was left in the grave, stating that this field must be broken up and set for potato land, or else the tenant would be buried in that grave. On Sunday evening last a party of eight men, well armed with revolvers, entered the gate lodge of the Earl of Darnley's place, at Clifton Lodge in Athboy parish, and, presenting a revolver at the head of the gate-keeper, compelled him to give up his gun. Parties were heard with regular measured tread parading the roads all Sunday night, to the great terror of the inhabitants of the houses by the roadside, and several doors were violently shaken by the marauders, and attempted to be forced open. It is well known that a gentleman of large property in this county is entirely confined to his house, and obliged to take exercise by walking up and down a passage in the centre of his house, in which there is no window opening to the outside of the house. He had asked a party of ladies to his house to go to the Kells ball. They were warned they would be shot if they went from that to the ball, and were obliged to remain at home. Several Iadie3 who were in the habit of paying morning visits at the house received threatening letters to warn them not to do so in future. Several gentlemen residing on their properties in the county are obliged to walk about their own fields, looking at their cattle, with two policemen accompanying them. Nine men on Sunday night attacked the house of Mr. Anthony Dunne, of Clonbarron, near Athboy, and took a double-barrelled gun, worth £20. The priest of the parish is afraid to say a word in his chapel against the marauders for fear he would be shot. Some of the police have an intention to resign, lest they might be shot from behind a hedge when patrolling the roads at night. In short, the reign of terror is completely established, and no man would dare to prosecute parties that take their guns, for their lives would be the forfeit. Several cars proceeding from the town of Athboy to Kells to attend a recent fair were stopped in open daylight by armed men, who jumped over the hedge and scrutinized all the occupants of the cars, to find one man they wanted to beat, but he was not on the cars. That very active sub-inspector, Mr. Murphy, was out all day on Monday with the police, scouring the country and searching for arms, but without effect.My Lords, these statements might be multiplied but I have read enough to 25 show what is the present state of Ireland. The question, however, naturally occurs, what is the cause of this state of things which I have thus inadequately endeavoured to describe? My Lords, I observe there is great anxiety on the part of some who deal with this important question to make it clear that, whatever may be the cause, it has nothing to do with the legislation which was concluded in the last Session of Parliament. The noble Earl who seconded the Address referred to that legislation; and it seemed to me was anxious to show that no connection could be traced between that legislation and the present state of the country. My Lords, I am not going to inquire whether that legislation has had anything to do with the present state of Ireland; but I would venture to point out that for those who are anxious to disconnect the two subjects it is not enough to say—as I observe many persons now say—we never expected that the measure of last year would produce peace and harmony. The perorations still ringing in our ears of "messages of peace to Ireland," of "the contentment and satisfaction of the country" are now all forgotten by these persons, and they tell us now that it never entered into their minds that it would give contentment and peace to that country, or that the peace of Ireland would be secured or even generally promoted by that measure. But the difficulty these persons have to contend with is this—the state of the case is not that Ireland remains in the unsatisfied condition she was in before the Act of last year, but that there has been a large and extended increase in the agitation throughout the country. I observe that a Member of the Government—the Vice President of the Committee of Council of Education (Mr. W. E. Forster)—the other day gave an explanation on this subject—I do not know whether Her Majesty's Ministers agree with him, but his explanation was this:—He said, my view of the case is that all the outrage and violence occurring in Ireland at present arise from the Fenian agitators. Those persons, he argued, live by agitation; they are very unwilling that good measures should be passed which should have the effect of restoring order and tranquillity; as long as the late Government were in Office, they knew very well no good 26 measures would be passed, and therefore they might be quiet; but now a Government is in Office that is sure to pass good measures and satisfy the country, therefore they have become very much alarmed, and are straining every effort to prevent such measures being passed. That was the explanation of the Vice President of the Council. But, my Lords, it appears to me that there is this difficulty about that explanation—it is without foundation both as regards its facts and its reasoning. As regards facts, it is not the case that these Fenians were quiet while the late Government were in Office. Just the opposite—they were extremely violent. But the difference was that the late Government obtained powers to deal with them and suppress the insurrection; and they succeeded. But with regard to the reasoning, the explanation is still more peculiar. In the speech we have before us, the Royal Commissioners tell us there is this unsatisfactory state of things that prevails throughout the whole of Ireland, that crime and outrage have extended, and they proceed to confess that this state of things cannot be grappled with, because, from the indisposition on the part of the mass of the population, there is an impossibility of obtaining information to detect crime. The theory, therefore, of the Vice President of the Council must be that not only a few agitators, but the mass of the people of Ireland are under the impression that measures which are good for them are about to be passed—the mass of the people are unwilling that good measures in their own interests should be passed—and, therefore, they are agitating the country in order to prevent those measures being passed. Now, my Lords, I think, we may find a good deal much nearer home that will assist us in explaining this point. We may find a; good deal both in the declarations and conduct of the Government which will go far to account for the state of agitation that at this moment prevails in Ireland. My Lords, the agitation is a land agitation. We know, as a matter of history, that at all times and in all countries there is no kind of agitation which ever has been so serious or so difficult to deal with as an agitation on the subject of land. It is extremely captivating. It comes home to a great number of people. It conies home to 27 those who occupy land, and it comes home to those who desire to occupy it. It conies homo to those who have very little to lose and a great deal to gain. It comes home to those who are anxious for change in the hope that through change they may obtain some advantage to themselves. It is an agitation in which, of all others, wild and visionary views are sure to be put forward; and in which wild and visionary views, stated with ambiguity and plausibility, can be made extremely captivating to the great mass of the people. I do not mean to say that a Government may not feel it their duty to deal with and modify the laws in regard to the tenure of land—it is quite clear that occasions may arise in which they ought to deal with and modify them; but I maintain there is a first duty incumbent on the Government on this subject, and it is this—if they are about to deal with the laws relating to the tenure and occupation of land—it may be that they may not be in a position to state at the moment the form and manner in which they intend to deal with them—but I maintain it is their duty to let it be known at once, clearly and explicitly, what are the evils which they have discovered, and which they think ought to be remedied; to let it be known that their measure, whatever its details, will be directed to remedy those evils, and to no other purpose, and to make it clear that no agitation and no excitement will induce them to go beyond the remedying of those evils which alone call for amendment. My Lords, if they do not adopt this course—if the Government bring a general impeachment and accusation against the land laws and the landlords of the country—if they throw down into the arena so important a subject to be torn to pieces by every comer—if they allow it to be supposed that just in proportion to the excitement and agitation so will be the concessions on the part of the Government—I say if the Government adopt that course they act in the very way to invite excitement and agitation, and they are in no small degree responsible for the agitation that exists. Let us look for a moment both at the statements made and the conduct held by Her Majesty's Ministers on this subject. T pass by the theories and suggestions put forward by journalists and pamphleteers, and I ask what have been the announcements of Her Majesty's 28 Ministers during the fourteen months in which this subject has been exciting the minds of the people? What have been the representations made by them of the measures they desire to introduce on this subject? We all remember the Prime Minister's statement. He said there was the great and evil tree in Ireland with its three branches—the Church, the Land, and Education—he and those associated with him were banded together to overthrow the system of Protestant ascendancy which was represented by that tree—a few strokes more and that tree would be prostrate on the ground. And we remember at the same time two other declarations from the same quarter—Ireland must be governed according to Irish ideas; and the chief reason why, in the year 1866, when the present Prime Minister was before in Office, he did not address himself to the question of the Irish Church was that he was at that time ignorant of the extent and intensity of Fenianism. Now, my Lords, from those three declarations I ask you what must have been the view entertained by the peasants and population of Ireland. Here, they would naturally say, we have a Minister who holds the opinion that the Church, Land, and Education are all branches of the same tree; he desires to overthrow that tree, and hopes to accomplish it; if he overthrows the tree, he will overthrow the branches. He has already overthrown the Church. He is willing to govern Ireland according to Irish ideas, but he could not be made to take the first step for the overthrow of one of these branches until he became aware of the extent and intensity of Fenianism. What then must we, the people of Ireland, do? Surely, they would say, the way to induce him to take the step which he is willing on pressure to take, is by agitation, and if necessary by means more forcible than agitation. But, my Lords, let us turn to another and very important Member of Her Majesty's Government—a right hon. Gentleman of whom I desire to speak with great respect, both on account of his ability, and because, however I may differ from him, I believe the propositions he has made with respect to Ireland proceed from a sincere desire for the good of that country, and because he has stated that, so far as he is concerned, he would be no party to any measure 29 which he considered unjustifiable, as taking property from one class or section of the people to give it to another. I refer to Mr. Bright. But what has he said? That, in his opinion, there never could and never ought to be any contentment in Ireland until the population were placed in greater numbers in possession of the soil of their country. At a later period he has told the Irish people that Government were prepared to offer them free land. Now, I do not understand what the Government may mean by the expression "free land," but I ask what would an Irish peasant understand by "free land?" What is a "free house" or a "free garden" to a peasant?" And would not the Irish people believe that Mr. Bright is of opinion that the population of Ireland should be plated in possession of the soil of the country, and that to this end they would be offered land for which they would not have to pay. Again, the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, whom I am sorry to say I do not see in the House to-night, made use of a phrase—accompanied, it is true, by certain qualifications, and I am convinced he never intended to utter the words with the meaning which has since been attributed to them—the noble Earl speaking of certain hypothetical acts supposed about to be perpetrated by landlords, characterized them as "felonious acts." What has been the consequence? The words have rung from one end of Ireland to the other; it has been repeated over and over again, and the peasants have been taught to believe that the landlords of Ireland are "felonious" or "felons," and I observe that the ingenious argument has been made use of in that country that, as according to law it is legal to resist felony to the last extremity, ergo it is allowable to resist the landlords of Ireland to the last extremity, though that should be death. These are literally, so far as I know, the only declarations made by the Government as to the views they entertain with regard to legislation on this subject during the last fourteen months of agitation and excitement.
But I will now pass from the expressions to the conduct of the Government. I have given to your Lordships some statistics as to outrages in Ireland. I maintain that the first duty of the Government—the object for which Go- 30 vernment exists, and which constitutes its justification for being a Government—is that it should repress outrages and should enforce security for property and life. I regret to say that, in my opinion, the Government during the last twelve months have in Ireland abdicated their office. It might almost seem that the noble Marquess and the noble Earl, the Mover and Seconder of the Address, spoke in irony when they mentioned the firm administration of law in that country. The same Member of the Government to whom I have already referred (Mr. Forster) expressed his opinion that outrage should be punished in Ireland in the same manner as in England and Scotland. Could those words have any meaning? Has there been any firm administration of the law for the last twelve months? There has been law in abundance on the statute book, but has there been any point of contact between the law and the offenders against the law—has there been an instance in which the law in Ireland has, by a firm administration, been brought to bear on the men who have violated the law? There has been no law in Ireland for the last twelve months in reference to the matters I am now alluding to but the law of assassination and sedition. We see the Press teeming every week with articles seditious and rebellious to a degree which would not, I believe, be permitted in any other country in Europe. What more have we seen? We have seen men who were convicted and imprisoned not long ago for offences of which they were guilty, and were a twelvemonth since released by what I hold to have been a mistaken exercise of leniency, publishing articles exciting to outrage, and exhorting the youth of Ireland to arm and drill in order to drive what they term the invaders from the soil. We have seen platforms on which speakers—and some of them, I grieve to say, ministers of religion—have uttered words and offered advice which, however ingeniously interlarded with negatives and qualifications, could have no other effect on the minds of those who heard the: advice than that of excusing or exciting to outrage or assassination. We have seen—by the catalogue of black crimes to which I have referred—a crop spring up such as might have been expected from the seed that was sown, and which the Government is powerless to check; 31 or, if they have the power, they hare not exercised it for the repression by punishment of those outrages in any single instance.
My Lords, if ever a Government were without excuse for allowing this state of things to continue it is the present Government. It is the boast of the present Government that they are a strong Government, and that they have a large majority in the House of Commons. The Government came into Office by the voice of a Parliament elected on the broadest suffrage ever known in this country. They boast that they represent the opinions of the people of the country. Now, I want to know—are the Government of opinion that the people of this country desire that Ireland should be governed? I believe that the people of this country have that desire. I believe that, whatever may be their individual wishes and opinions respecting the best method of healing the discontent of Ireland, they are unanimous in their dissatisfaction at the absence of proper government in that country—and in their desire that, whatever measures may be required, outrage and disorder in Ireland should be repressed. Well, then, have the Government at present sufficient powers? It is rather difficult for us perhaps to form a definite opinion on that point, and we have not heard from the Government that they want further powers; but I say that if powers be lacking, it is the duty of the Government, without delay, to ask for what further powers may be requisite. It has been suggested that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act would not be sufficient to deal with cases of isolated outrage and assassination. But if that suspension be not sufficient and some further powers are necessary, it is the duty of the Government to ask for even further powers. There have been instances even in the modern history of this country when powers greater than those supplied by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act have been asked for by the Government and conceded. But, my Lords, I cannot help fearing that the Government have not themselves made up their own minds as to what course they ought to pursue. I read the other day a representation made by the magistrates of Meath to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. They described the state of the country and ap- 32 plied to him to put them in a position to check the outrages prevailing. I also read the answer of the Chief Secretary, and I confess I read it with some surprise. He acknowledged the receipt of their memorial, and then, in what appeared to me, the bewilderment of incapacity, the Chief Secretary appealed to the magistrates to say what they would recommend the Government to do.
My Lords, I am afraid that it is the truth, and the sad truth, that at this moment there is no country in Europe in winch property and life are not more secure than in Ireland. I well recollect, my Lords, that during the debates last year on the Irish Church it was the favourite fashion of noble Lords opposite to appeal to the opinion of foreigners on the question—so much so that on one occasion my noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) was prompted to refer to it very happily as "the foreign friend argument." I wish those noble Lords would think a little of that argument now. I ask them what their foreign friends at present think of the state of Ireland. Is there a country in Europe in which intelligent men are not filled with amazement at the manner in which we are governing Ireland? And I want to know what prospects there are for the future? I want to know what is the proposal of the Government for quieting that country? We are going to have a Bill on the subject of the occupation of land in Ireland. I do not wish to speculate on the nature of that Bill, and I am willing to believe, from the character of Members of the Government and the opinions expressed by them on other occasions, it will not be a Bill trenching on the rights of property or on the sound and well-established principles of political economy. But if so it is certain that the great mass of the Irish people will not be satisfied. Well, then, when you have introduced your measure and passed it into law, and when there still remains a large portion of the agitators of the country utterly dissatisfied with the measure, what security do you offer that the law will be more observed in Ireland than it is at present? I have heard, it said, for instance, that it is the intention of the Government—or at least that it would be a good thing for the Government—to institute special tribunals in Ireland to deal with questions between landlord and tenant. Supposing that 33 be true, how are you going to bring the law to bear on the results of the decisions of those courts? Recollect what took place last year. Perhaps the saddest of the outrages perpetrated last year was that of Mr. Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw, a gentleman in the South of Ireland, was appointed to arbitrate upon a disputed question between a landlord and some tenants. This was, therefore, an instance of the very thing which those who are anxious for a court desire to see attained. Here was the tribunal to which they would appeal, and it existed under the most favourable form, because it had not been forced on one party or the other, but it was one to which landlord and tenants had both agreed. The arbitrator decided against the tenants; he received a threatening letter, and he was shot. If these things be done in the green tree, I wish to know if anything1 better is to be looked for in the dry? If you cannot enforce the law now, how will you enforce it after considerable modifications have been made in the rights of the various parties, and when there will remain agitators as vehement against the law as there are now?
The Royal Commissioners, in that paragraph of the Speech to which I have already referred, say—"The Executive Government has employed freely the means at its command for the prevention of outrage." My Lords, I own that I should be rejoiced to know in what manner the Executive Government have employed those means. We have seen no traces of their employment. We have heard of flying squadrons in the country, but we have not soon the employment of means which has led to any result. The other day I saw in the newspapers a statement which gave me some hope—the Government had dismissed an Irish magistrate and a Deputy Lieutenant. I read this paragraph while I was absent from England, and I said to myself. "At last the Government are acting; I have some hope." "No doubt." I said, "this is one of these gentlemen who has been attending seditious meetings; he has been preaching to the people about the injustice of the land laws, and calling upon them to agitate and to drive the Government to bring in an extensive measure for their benefit; or at least he has been present at a meeting where language of a 34 violent kind had been held by some of the speakers. The Government," I said, "have done right to dismiss him, and I hope his dismissal will have a good and wholesome effect." My Lords, I am sorry to say that my sanguine expectations were deceived; the story was quite different. I discovered in the course of time that the state of facts was really this—A country gentleman, of the county of Leitrim, who had never taken any part in politics, and had seldom or never attended a public meeting, had, unfortunately for him, been one of the three names selected by the Judge of Assize to fill the office of High Sheriff of the county. In answering the communication of the Lord Lieutenant announcing the fact of his appointment, he protested against being called upon to servo as Sheriff. So far as his protesting was concerned, I do not suppose any serious blame could be imagined to attach to him for that act; certainly, in this country, every year, numerous protests come in from those who are appointed to serve the office of High Sheriff—some of them couched in strong and forcible language; some of your Lordships have occasionally assisted, as I myself have done, at an inquest into the validity of such protests; but I never heard of anyone being taken to task for sending in such a protest. The ground of the protest in this case appears to have been this—The gentleman was under the impression that, in being appointed to the office by the Government, he was in some way brought into closer relations with the Executive than he otherwise would have stood in, and disapproving, as he did very much, of the policy, or want of policy, of the Executive Government, and of the manner in which they were governing Ireland, he remonstrated, and protested against being called upon to serve under a Government between which and himself there were such serious differences of opinion. I do not agree with the gentleman in thinking that his excuse was a valid one; I do not think he was at all right, even supposing he was brought into closer relations with the Government, to imagine there need have been any conflict between his private opinions and the public duty he would have to perform. The line of action to be pursued by the Executive under the circumstances appears to me 35 to be perfectly clear. I should have thought it was clearly a case in which the Lord Lieutenant should have overruled the protest; but the Lord Lieutenant seems to have left undone that which he ought to have done, and to have done that which he ought not to have done; he let off the gentleman from being High Sheriff, which he ought not to have done, and he dismissed him from the Deputy Lieutenancy, and obtained his dismissal by the Lord Chancellor from the Commission of the Peace. I will read to your Lordships what the gentleman said in his letter—While I am fully aware the law enables the Lord Lieutenant to give such an order, I feel it my duty to enter my formal protest against being called upon to servo under the present Administration, who have conducted the affairs of my unhappy country in such a way that in less than a year we have been reduced from a state of comparative prosperity to a condition where law, order, and security, for cither life or property, may be said to have practically ceased to exist, and the very fabric of society itself seems threatened with dissolution; when no man can tell whether he will be allowed to reap the fruits of his own industry, or enjoy the property which his own money has purchased on the security of titles granted under the guarantee of the State; when, too, I find my-self, as an Irish Protestant landlord, in common with the rest of my brother landlords, held up by members of the Government to the hatred of our Roman Catholic neighbours as oppressors of the poor and exterminators of the people, enriching ourselves by the spoils wrung from a defenceless peasantry—when I consider these things I can only say I solemnly protest against being called upon to act as the chief guardian of the peace in the county of Leitrim.As I have said, I admit the reasons to be insufficient, and Mr. Madden ought not to have been excused from serving the office of High Sheriff. But I ask your Lordships, is it to be understood that in this country a man may not protest against serving the office of High Sheriff, that he may not beg to be excused, and that he may not state frankly what he thinks to be the character of the policy pursued by the Government; and is it to be termed an insult, which is to incapacitate a writer for every office, that he frankly and fairly, and in words in which I can find no insult whatever, slates his opinion on a question of policy? My Lords, I cannot help regretting every part of this transaction. I think in the answer of the Lord Lieutenant there is an additional and very serious error, because, after stating to this gentleman that he had removed 36 him from the office of Deputy Lieutenant, he proceeds to state that he had requested the Lord Chancellor to consider the propriety of retaining his name on the Commission of the Peace. Observe the position in which the Lord Chancellor was placed. The Lord Chancellor had a judicial duty to perform; it was his duty, if the facts were brought before him, to determine in a judicial manner upon the course he would adopt. But the Lord Chancellor was placed in such a position that he was obliged to do one of two things—either to condemn Mr. Madden or to condemn his own Colleagues. If he had not dismissed Mr. Madden he would have condemned the Lord Lieutenant, because he had already expressed his opinion and had dismissed Mr. Madden from the office of Deputy Lieutenant; yet the farce was gone through of calling upon the Lord Chancellor to perform a judicial duty by arriving at a judgment as to which it was impossible he could arrive at any other than that at which his Colleague had already arrived. When I read the correspondence, I said, "Well, we have gone back nearly 200 years." I remembered the story of Sir Samuel Baniardiston, who, in the time of Charles II., was deprived of his property because he wrote a letter reflecting on the Government of the day; and I could not but think that we had here a repetition of the story except that Mr. Madden is removed from the Deputy Lieutenancy and from the Commission of the Peace, instead of being deprived of his property. My Lords, upon this subject I would appeal—not to the Government, who, of course, are committed by the act of their Colleague, but I would appeal with confidence to the great Liberal party of this country—to that party who are proud of their opinions and traditions—and I would ask the great Liberal party of the country, are they prepared to abide by this policy of the Government, and to hold that it is right that any man is to be deprived of the offices which he holds under the Crown because forsooth he ventures, in a manner to which it is absurd to say that any serious objection could be taken, except as regards the opinions which are expressed, to differ from the policy of the Government? I remind that great party that the question is, not whether these opinions are right orwrong—whether Mr. 37 Madden is right or the Government are right as regards their policy; suppose, if you please, that the opinions of Mr. Madden are altogether wrong;—but the question is whether freedom of opinion and freedom of discussion in this country are to be reduced to this—that no man, in a communication with the Government, is to express his disapproval of the acts of the Government upon the pain of losing his office. I ask the great Liberal party, if this state of things were reversed, if a Conservative Government had been in power, if a Conservative Lord Lieutenant, because some one appointed to the office of High Sheriff had expressed his disapproval of the policy of the Government, had removed him from the offices of Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace, would the great Liberal party of this country have remained tranquil and silent, and allowed the transaction to pass as one consistent with the great and high principles which they have always upheld? Look what the Government have exposed themselves to. What has happened since the Lord Chancellor has thus dealt with Mr. Madden? Why, forty or fifty magistrates surrounding him, of the same county and the adjacent county, met together, agreed to a declaration, and flung it in the face of the Lord Lieutenant; they said, in effect—"With every word of Mr. Madden we agree; his opinions are ours; dismiss us if you choose." Could the Lord Lieutenant venture to do it? He knows he could not, and the Government know they could not; and by the rash and incautious step they have taken they have allowed this insult to be flung in their face.
But there is something further. The county of Leitrim is a happy county; it possesses both a High Sheriff and a Lord Lieutenant; and the Lord Lieutenant of Leitrim (the Earl of Granard) is a Member of this House; but I have no charge to bring against him, and all I have to say has reference to Her Majesty's Government. The Lord Lieutenant of the county of Leitrim will surely have dealt out to him the same measure of justice that the High Sheriff and Deputy Lieutenant had meted out to him. I find the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Leitrim holds a meeting, at which he presides, and the mooting is held at Enniscorthy, which is close to Vinegar Hill. In opening the meeting 38 the Lord Lieutenant is reported to have said—I am proud to address you on this classic ground"—I am not quite sure what is meant by applying the term "classic ground" to Vinegar Hill—"I am proud to address you on this classic ground, teeming as it docs with the associations of the past and the aspirations of the present, within view of that historic hill where your fathers, lashed into armed resistance by the injustice of the times, made their last gallant stand.My Lords, there is indeed a chapter—a dark chapter—in the history of Ireland—in which the narrative of Vinegar Hill may be read. I should have thought anyone connected with Ireland would have been glad to have thrown around that chapter the veil of concealment and oblivion. It is a chapter with not only chronicled acts of rebellion: it is a chapter of the vilest cruelty that, perhaps, was over practised in any war—above all in any civil war. It is a chapter the very mention of which recalls to the minds of Irishmen memories of the direst animosity, of the deepest hostility, and of feelings which I am sure all of us desire to see buried in forgetfulness. Yet the Lord Lieutenant of Leitrim thought it not improper to speak of Vinegar Hill and its traditions, and to rejoice in the opportunity of reminding those around him what those traditions were. I ask again here—because sometimes if we reverse a case we get a better illustration of the argument—suppose the Lord Lieutenant of a northern county had assembled another county meeting upon the field of the Battle of the Boyne, which is connected with histories in which this country takes some interest and feels some pride; and suppose he had said that he was glad to meet upon that classic ground and to remind those around him of traditions and memories connected with that spot, and of those feelings which we all know some Irishmen are ready enough to cherish—suppose this had been done, I ask, would the Liberal party have been satisfied with the Government which did not call that Lord Lieutenant to account, and inform him that he had mistaken his duly, which was to preserve the peace of the county, when he resorted to expressions and speeches which, of all others, were calculated to excite animosity? And that is not all. For at the same or another meeting, over which the same Lord Lieutenant (the Earl of Granard) presided, a minister of reli- 39 gion spoke, and this was what the Lord Lieutenant of the county Leitrim, charged with the preservation of the peace of the county, was found ready and willing to listen to—The Rev. Mr. Doyle, P.P., told the landlords that the people would have no more patience with them, that their crimes had gone too far, that they had robbed too long, and that their conduct would not be tolerated any longer. He denied their right to an absolute ownership of the soil, and maintained that the land was created, not for kings or governors, or an aristocracy, but for the people, and that no Government on earth had anything but a conditional right to it. He remarked that a great change was coming over the people. He himself was terrified at some things he had witnessed. He declared that he bad nothing but a feeling of kindness for the landlords, but he warned them of the influence of certain messages which came across the Atlantic. He read one of these messages, which was from John Mitchell, a man, he said, who had perhaps greater influence with the Irish race than any living Irishman. Mr. Mitchell had written recently in his paper as follows:—'If the landlord evict you, shoot him like a mad dog.' He (the Rev. Mr. Doyle) did not approve that, but yet the landlords should deal with it as a fact, and a very important fact. Mr. Mitchell continued:—'If the landlord hides in London, shoot the agent; and if you cannot shoot the agent, shoot the bailiff, or all three together.' He said he did not read this as a threat; but with such advice coming from the American Press, he saw that, unless a radical change be made, there will be terrible work in the country. The meeting loudly applauded during the reading of the extract.And the Lord Lieutenant was in the chair. Sic vos non vobis. It is the old story of the chief butler and the chief baker; the chief baker is hung, while the chief butler is patted on the back and promoted.
My Lords, the noble Marquess who addressed us first this evening (the Marquess of Huntly) said that he hoped the legislation about to be submitted to us on the subject of the land would not be treated as a party question. My Lords, I do not know why it should be treated as a party question. Whatever differences of opinion have prevailed with regard to them, measures for the purpose of improving the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland have been submitted by both sides of the House, and we have always dealt openly, fairly, and candidly with the question. But while making this remark I must be permitted to say that if there was any one person who could have succeeded in turning this into a party question, that person is the 40 Prime Minister himself, by that speech of his to which I have already referred. He not only made this a party question, but a religious question; and, my Lords, if it should become a party question—a consummation I shall deeply regret—the Prime Minister will have himself to blame for it. My, Lords, how far the Bill of the Government will be accepted by your Lordships will, I have no doubt, depend on the contents of the Bill; but if the meaning of the hope expressed by the noble Marquess be that the measure, whatever it be, shall not be criticized in any hostile spirit, I will answer for this side of the House, that we will approach the subject in an earnest, in a patient, and in an impartial spirit. We will endeavour to discover what are the real evils to be remedied. We will not assume them, as I think the noble Marquess was perhaps prone to do. We will consider what those evils are, and we will endeavour, by legislation fitted for the purpose, to remedy those evils. But, my Lords, as regards the past, as regards the months which have gone by, and as regards the present condition of Ireland, I for my part should feel that I had not properly discharged my duty if I did not place upon record my solemn protest that, however strong a Government may be, however numerous may be its followers, and however great the ability of its members, that Government has not deserved well of its country which has not succeeded in realizing the first end and object of civilization—the repression of outrage, and the security of property and life.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I must ask your Lordships' indulgence throughout the very few observations that I am about to make, as I am suffering from the effects of a very common and uninteresting indisposition which rather clouds one's thoughts and makes it very difficult to convoy them to others. My Lords, the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) will not, I hope, think it presumptuous on my part if I express my sincere gratification in hearing him again in the position which he occupied at the prorogation of Parliament. For nearly forty years the great Conservative party in this House was led, first by one of the great characters in our history, and afterwards by a noble Earl who was lost to the country this autumn (the Earl of Derby), and who, whatever our opi- 41 nions may be as to his political opinions, was, as we are all ready to admit, one of the most brilliant ornaments of this House. For the last two years the great majority of your Lordships have followed two Leaders; and during this autumn, up to within a very few days ago, we have been disquieted by the announcement that the Conservative party in this House was without a Leader. All the details were given to us. We were told that the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) felt that his judicial duties were incompatible with those of a political leader in this Assembly. We were further told that some Peers were a little too exclusive in their political opinions; some preferred to remain in a private capacity, and others were too modest as to their possession of the qualities which would enable them to undertake this office. Now, it might seem at first sight that such a state of anarchy in the Opposition, if it had been continued to the end, would have been an advantage to Her Majesty's Government; but, in fact, however strongly I feel the gravity of having opposed to me a noble Lord of such powers as the noble and learned Lord, I am quite sure that nothing could be worse for the Government, nor for the Conservative party itself than that that party should remain without a Loader, without discipline, and liable to be carried away by any sudden impulse. My Lords, the noble and learned Lord alluded to the shortness of the paragraph in the Speech upon foreign affairs as in-indicating a very satisfactory state of things. I am sorry that the indisposition which is now so rife prevented my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Clarendon) from hearing this implied compliment. On the other hand, the noble and learned Lord said that the very short paragraph with regard to colonial affairs is not satisfactory, and that it is a matter of surprise and regret that when there existed in the colonies feelings of alarm with regard to their relations to the mother country, something reassuring was not said in Her Majesty's Speech. Now, my Lords, the Speech is not unusually short; I am quite sure it is not unusually deficient in matter, and to bring in merely commonplace sentiments because certain persons, absolutely without foundation, have declared 42 that Her Majesty has been advised to separate herself from her colonies, would, I think, be unworthy of any English Minister. Then, my Lords, with regard to the working classes, in whom we all feel a deep interest, the noble and learned Lord guarded himself against giving support to any exaggerations as to their distressed state; and the truth is, as I believe, that there are indications of improvement in our great staple trades, and though undoubtedly in Lancashire and in portions of London great distress exists, we believe there are symptoms that a turn is being taken, and that better things may be expected. I will not now go over the very short review which the noble and learned Lord has made with respect to the various measures which Her Majesty's Government are about to introduce, but I will confine what I have to say to the comments which fell from the noble and learned Lord with regard to the paragraph in the Speech from the Throne which relates to the prevalence of crime and outrage in Ireland. Nobody is more willing than I am to admit the admirable qualities which the noble and learned Lord possesses as a party leader; but in the criticisms which I sometimes heard urged last Session against his qualifications for that position it was suggested that, though full of legal and other knowledge, he wanted something of that lightness and airiness by which, the speeches of chiefs of Opposition are sometimes distinguished. The noble and learned Lord to - night has shown that the criticism was not quite well founded, and that he is not wanting even in those qualities; but I think it somewhat unfortunate that he should have chosen for the display of his fancy a paragraph which relates to a subject so serious and solemn as that which I have just mentioned. For the long hypothetical account which he gave your Lordships as to the manner in which that paragraph was composed, there is not the slightest foundation in fact, though there might be much in fancy. As to the noble and learned Lord's general discussion of the state of crime and outrage in Ireland, I must, however, admit that there is in it nothing which I am in a position to contradict. The state of that country is, no doubt, in that respect most unsatisfactory. I thought it, however, quite unnecessary, 43 as adding nothing to the strength, of his arguments, for him to treat us to a great number of isolated facts, collected from newspapers, some of them true, some of them probably false, but all of them quite irrelevant as regards their connection with the state of Ireland; and I think we need not have been treated to them. With regard to the crimes and outrages, and the difficulty of punishing them, I am not here to deny or to diminish in the slightest degree their enormity; but the noble and learned Lord went on from his description of those things to give us his views respecting them; and, in doing so, he entirely denied what Mr. Forster mentioned the other day in the country, and with which I entirely agree, that the Fenians would wait when no remedial measures were proposed, but could not wait now. There is much difficulty even in the case of those who are best acquainted with Ireland of tracing the lines of demarcation between Fenianism and Ribbonism. I believe that these are distinct in some cases, but that in others they tend to act and re-act upon each other. I entirely agree with Mr. Forster, and disagree with the noble and learned Lord, if he thinks that the Fenians are not most heartily opposed to all that is judicious, and reasonable, and wise in the measures of improvement which Her Majesty's Government have effected, both with respect to the Established Church of Ireland and the improvements we hope to effect on the vital question of the land. You may depend upon it that no party in the State is so anxious as those very Fenians that the grievances on which their influence depends should continue, and that no party would be so completely discomfited as they would be by the passing of a good Tenant Right Bill. But the noble and learned Lord, treating the subject of agrarian outrage in Ireland as if it were a thing really quite new, has again referred to the speeches of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright, and has quoted their words as if they were calculated to create those wild expectations which, as his party have maintained, have been raised in the minds of the Irish people in consequence of those speeches. The noble and learned Lord quoted portions of those speeches verbatim to us last year. I will not, however, enter into a discussion of those words beyond saying—as, indeed, I said 44 last year—that if they did engender such feelings as the noble and learned Lord seems to imagine, they were increased, and will be increased, by the vague and general gloss which the noble and learned Lord and others have put upon those statements. These remarks he has repeated, forgetful that I, myself, last year, made a statement denying that the Government were going to do some of the things attributed to them, and that I adopted the very words which the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) had stated would be sufficient to dispel such a belief. But the noble and learned Lord went further. He said that it was not only the Government that was the cause of this unhappy state of things in Ireland, but that we were wanting in the very first duties of a Government in not establishing peace and order in that country. The noble and learned Lord went on to give us a catalogue of the crimes which have been committed, and told us that we have failed to punish them. He treated with extreme ridicule the answer which the Chief Secretary for Ireland gave to the magistrates who desired that the law should be put in force, by asking them how they could do it? My Lords, Sir Robert Peel once said—"Call me in and I will prescribe," and such an answer is perfectly just where a party is prepared to form a Government. But it certainly does appear to me inconceivable, in such a state of things as we are referring to, the leader of the Opposition should have a remedy for the evils which he deplores, and yet should abstain from mentioning what that remedy is. Does the noble and learned Lord forget the great difficulty which there is in procuring the necessary evidence to enable the Government to deal effectually with the outrages to which he has called our attention tonight? If he is aware of any means by which that evidence can be produced, and if he knows how these crimes can be repressed, it would, I think, be but patriotic in him to give Her Majesty's Government some hint, either privately or in public, as to the means by which an object so desirable could be accomplished. But more than that, I should be glad to know what was the advice which he gave when the Government of the day had to deal with the case of Mr. Scully. I believe that case to be the most unfortunate that has 45 yet arisen: that it has given more encouragement to the Fenian cause than anything that has occurred—it is most I unfortunate in every way. Now, that murder was effected in consequence of the careless arrangements made by the authorities. What steps did the late Government take to bring those who committed the outrage in that case to justice? Again, there was—I think it was in 18G7—the case of Mr. Duffy, when the Peace Preservation Act was put in force, and an additional police force sent into the district where the crime was committed; the expenses of so doing were charged upon the district. He refused to pay them, and from 1867 to the time when the present Government came into power no measures were taken to enforce the payment. I do not wish to enter into recrimination in these matters, but I do say it is not fair to weaken the Government in Ireland by these violent accusations, and entirety shut your eyes to the difficulties that took place before we came into power. The noble and learned Lord left it particularly vague whether the Government had or had not put sufficiently into exercise the powers they already possess, or whether they should have had recourse to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Now, with regard to the powers we possess, I can say there is no power that we have which we have not put into execution, with one exception, which I shall shortly touch upon. We have increased the military and the police, we have doubled the patrols, and have charged their maintenance upon the districts. One question has been asked, which I read the other day in the Autobiography of Earl Russell, who asks why, following his example, we did not proclaim some of the districts of Ireland? Our answer is, that at this moment there are only two counties—Down and Antrim—that have escaped. And when the noble and learned Lord takes upon himself to blame Her Majesty's Government for not instituting Press prosecutions, I think he takes some responsibility upon himself—speaking, as he always does, with authority—because he must know the seriousness of such an undertaking, with all its possible contingencies. My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have not felt lightly their responsibility with respect to Ireland. It is melancholy to see what is occurring there, in a 46 country which, in many ways, has improved in prosperity, in all the elements which constitute the elements of civilization, well-being, and safety of a State. Cabinet Councils have been held on the subject, and we have been in communication with the Irish Government as to the expediency of its being intrusted with additional powers, and we should not have hesitated to summon Parliament together at an earlier period to furnish us with those powers had we deemed such a course to be expedient and necessary. In 1851 and 1852, for instance, the state of things was much worse than it is now. In the latter year the late Lord Derby, in criticizing the Speech from the Throne, said he should have been satisfied if it had contained expressions in reference to Ireland almost identical with those which have been introduced into the Royal Speech on the present occasion. Your Lordships ought not to forgot that, however bad may be the existing state of Ireland, things have been worse in former times. I would refer in particular to the year 1833, when a severe measure of coercion received the sanction of the Legislature. I may just mention, however, with regard to that Act, that one of its principal provisions does not exactly meet one of the great difficulties of the present time, for it is useless to establish a court-martial unless you can obtain evidence to be laid before it. Again, in 1847, Sir George Grey gave a most frightful account of the crime and outrage prevailing in Ireland. The powers conferred by the Peace Preservation Act itself have, indeed, in a slightly modified form continued in existence to the present day. In 1852, after Lord Derby's Government came into Office, no steps were taken by them, although crime and outrage prevailed in Ireland to a much wider extent than it does now; and I am not aware of any of the powers conferred which Her Majesty's Government have not put into execution. Further, there have been greater agrarian outrages since this Act than there are now. I think that it is always unadvisable to strain the constitution of the country without absolute necessity; but I would guard myself from convoying to those misguided men who are working the ruin of their country that Her Majesty's Government would think it impossible in certain cases and in a certain manner to deal with a state 47 of things in Ireland that is intolerable there. The noble and learned Lord opposite spoke with the greatest warmth when he touched upon the circumstance of Mr. Madden's name having been removed from the Commission of the Peace in consequence of the course he thought fit to adopt. After referring to an historical incident which occurred 200 years ago, the noble and learned Lord made an appeal to the great Liberal party, and asked whether it was tolerable that a gentleman should be deprived of a public office merely because he had made use of violent language against the policy of the Government of the day. But I would in turn ask the noble and learned Lord whether many other persons, besides Mr. Madden, have not recently used violent language in the north of Ireland? Some Conservatives, indeed, have uttered language, which, in my judgment, was absolutely disloyal, and have even gone so far as to rejoice in Fenian successes. I am not sure that the noble Duke (the Duke of Hamilton) took a wise or judicious course, considering his position as a representative of the late Government, in crossing the Channel and using language which decidedly had not a tendency cither to create harmony between different religious creeds or to give strength to the Government which was then charged with the maintenance of peace and order in that country. I am not going into a minute examination of what different persons on either side of the Channel may have said in public, but I mention that in no instance has Her Majesty's Government taken notice of language used in times of public excitement on one side or the other merely because it was disagreeable to themselves. But when Mr. Madden chose to decline to serve an office which the laws required him to assume, and couched his refusal in language of a character tending to bring all government into disrepute, I think it was the undoubted right and duty of Her Majesty's Government to take notice of such language, which was perfectly distinct and different from violent words uttered without reference to the Crown, but merely attacking the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. The noble and learned Lord at first disclaimed all intention of making an attack on Lord Granard, though he afterwards made what I regard as a very 48 strong attack upon the noble Earl. Complaints have been made on previous occasions as to no notice having been given of charges about to be made. Now, I should like to know whether the noble and learned Lord gave Lord Granard, who I believe is detained in Ireland by the sickness of his wife, the slightest notice of his intention to bring so weighty a charge against him, and also whether he has really taken any pains to verify the accuracy of the report to which he alluded. With regard to the noble and learned Lord's expressions concerning party feeling, although I regretted to hear him bring an unfounded charge against Mr. Gladstone of having introduced party feeling in a question of great national importance, yet I listened with great pleasure to his declaration that your Lordships realty do mean to look at this most grave subject of the tenure of land in Ireland free from all prejudice and from all party feeling. There are, indeed, occasions on which party feeling should be in a great degree subjugated in consideration of the great public importance of the questions brought forward, and I am sure the measure now about to be introduced is one of the gravest character. I cannot sit down without saying how much I admired the remarks of the noble Earl who seconded the Address (the Earl of Fingall), and who spoke with great authority and knowledge of the subject, and also the speech of my Friend the noble Marquess who preceded him. In conclusion, I have to gratefully accept the assurance of the noble and learned Lord that he and those with whom he acts will disregard party feeling while assisting in our deliberations.
My Lords, is it or is it not true, as the noble and learned Lord behind me has stated, that for some months there has been in Ireland a practical suspension of all laws and of all security? For my part I think no one can have listened to the documents he read without being convinced that it is. My noble Friend opposite (Earl Granville) says that crime and outrage have prevailed heretofore in Ireland. No doubt they have, and at some periods they have been very common; but, as far as I am aware, it now happens for the first time that there has pervaded the whole country a general sense of the powerlessness of the law, 49 and a general feeling that the Government is insufficient to protect the peaceable and well-disposed subjects of Her Majesty. It is no longer a question of agrarian outrage. As the noble and learned Lord told your Lordships, these people now actually threaten the Judges of the land and counsel for acting in the discharge of their duty, and positively attempt to ill-use jurymen for having honestly discharged their duty. We hear, too, of persons in business not being allowed freedom in engaging or dismissing the persons in their employ. We are even told of an unfortunate man who was actually murdered for no other offence than that he was a more enterprizing dealer in eggs than, his neighbours. How, I ask, can the great natural resources of the country be developed as long as a man is unable to carry on his trade or business without rendering himself liable to be shot if he ventures to be more enterprising than his neighbours? No doubt the great misfortune of Ireland has long been that there is no occupation for the people but the cultivation of the land; and what has been at the bottom of agrarian outrage is the intense desire for land created by the want of any other means of earning a subsistence. But, then, how can other employments grow up, and how can internal resources be developed in Ireland so long as there is no security for life or property? And then we are told, in Her Majesty's Message, that we are to trust mainly to an improvement in the law of landlord and tenant. Now, the law of landlord and tenant is not different from what it was some years ago, and yet every one acknowledges that up to the year 1868 there had been for some time a great diminution of agrarian outrage, a growing feeling of security, and generally an improvement in the industry and trade of Ireland. What has checked this? My Lords, I fear we shall find that the real cause is associated with that measure of last Session relating to the Church in Ireland; which, unhappily, though a wholesome measure in itself, was carried through Parliament in a manner which has treated in the minds of the Irish people the persuasion that they owe that measure not to a sense of justice on the part of the Government and Parliament in England, but to intimidation and to the necessities of party government. That 50 fatal impression was created by the manner in which those who are now Her Majesty's Ministers dealt with that question in 1866, and then in 1868 and 1869, and the evil has been greatly increased, as I ventured to say last year it would be, by the injudicious language on the land question—ihe imprudent and dangerous language—of persons in high authority. I ventured to say last year that such language could not fail in the ensuing winter to produce a crop of outrages, for which, in my opinion, the members of Her Majesty's Government would be, to a great extent, morally responsible. My Lords, what has since happened has confirmed me in that opinion, and it does appear to me that, while I quite agree in the absolute necessity of dealing with the land question in Ireland, still I say that even before you do that Government is bound to show that we are prepared to assert the authority of the law. There is no shifting from the responsibility. Either the laws for insuring order are sufficient, or they are not. If they are sufficient, why have they not been used to create a greater sense of security? If they are insufficient, why is there any delay in remedying the insufficiency? Why is this vague intimation held out to us that hereafter perhaps we may be asked for for extended powers? Why is there any delay in proposing measures, however severe they may be, which are necessary for protecting the loyal subjects of the Crown? I say Government is not doing its duty in this matter. My noble Friend (Earl Granville) has referred to the winter of 1847 when outrages were frequent, and he has told us that the measures which were thought necessary at that time for the preservation of order and were adopted by Parliament are substantially in force still. Now, my Lords, that may be perfectly true; but let me remind my noble Friend that, although those measures were successful then, they may not be adapted to a new state of things; and if new exigencies have arisen, and the powers at present in existence are insufficient, then, following the example of the period referred to, new measures should be passed to supply the deficiency. It is quite unworthy of statesmen, unworthy of men holding high positions in the Government of this country, to say that the cause of the outrages now occurring in Ireland is 51 beyond their power. I am quite persuaded that if you would take proper pains to ascertain what are the real causes of the difficulty now experienced in enforcing the law, and if you do not shrink from applying the remedies, whatever they may be, which on examination should prove necessary, it is not impossible to discover means by which this system of violence might be put an end to, and the peace of the country once more established. In my opinion this is the first duty of the Government, which they might well discharge without suspending or delaying any improvements in the law which may be thought necessary.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
My Lords, I am not desirous of prolonging this debate, or to travel over the ground of the heavy and serious indictments which have been brought against the Government by my noble and learned Friend behind me; but I must express my opinion that tie Government has loft the question as regards Ireland in a most unsatisfactory condition. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) has told us that every means has been used which the Government has in its power in order to keep down the state of lawless insurrection at present existing in Ireland. But, my Lords, you must remember that this question does not now arise for the first time. During the whole of last year these outrages were increasing in Ireland, until the country has grown into a condition of chronic disorder and danger such as to call for the serious intervention of Her Majesty's Government. I must remind your Lordships that as early as the 30th of last April the question was put to the Government on the occurrence of one of those serious outrages which have horrified the country, as to what steps they proposed taking for the preservation of peace and order in Ireland, and the answer which the noble Earl gave on that occasion was this—The noble Earl said—All I can say now—and I do not think your Lordships will expect me to say more—is that we are determined to put into practice all the provisions of the present law, and that Her Majesty's Government have been and are in earnest communication with the Government in Ireland, in order to ascertain whether it be expedient or not to take any further legislation for the purpose of putting down outrages of so terrible and lamentable a character as those which have lately occurred."—[3 Hansard, cxcv.1958]52 Since these words were uttered outrage after outrage has occurred in Ireland, and that country has been the scene of some of the most cruel and dastardly murders that have over been recorded in the annals of crime; yet, when my noble and learned Friend draws attention to the state of Ireland at the present time, the noble Earl tells us that every expedient which the law at present provides has been put in force, and that the Government has left no remedy untried for the pacification of Ireland—the noble Earl alluded to the Crime and Outrage Act which at present exists—and yet crime runs rampant in Ireland unchecked. Her Majesty's Commissioners have told us to-day that, for the removal of such evils, Her Majesty places her main reliance on the permanent operation of wise and necessary changes in the law: yet she will not hesitate to recommend to you the adoption of special provisions, should such a policy appear during the course of the Session to be required by the paramount interest of peace and order. I should like to ask the noble Earl, and I hope he will inform your Lordships, what state of things in Ireland would, in his opinion, justify the Government in asking Parliament for fresh powers? My Lords, we have had during the past year fifty-nine cases of serious outrage. What number will satisfy the noble Earl that the danger is sufficient to justify special provisions? How many more murders and outrages must occur before the Government will seek repressive powers? The remedial measures they may propose will take the whole Session to discuss them. Must we wait till they are passed and till we can see their future operation, which must be of a slow and progressive character? Till then is the Government to allow murder after murder to occur without bringing forward any repressive measures? The very fact that Government intend hereafter to introduce such measures is a confession that they are necessary now. My Lords, I look on the state of things in Ireland as lamentable, dangerous, and unhappy; and I cannot but think that what has just fallen from the noble Earl is the true explanation—that the measure passed last Session, dealing so violently with property, gave a sanction to lawlessness among that excitable population, which 53 will not be eradicated for many years to come; and I cannot look forward to the future without very grave apprehension. Such being the case, and repressive measures not being adopted, a state of feeling will be encouraged in Ireland which must produce its own fruits in an intolerance of British legislation, and the demand will grow in intensity that the Irish people should have a separate Legislature for themselves. If that state of things should arise in Ireland, I hold the Government will be responsible for it on account of the measures which they have passed—measures not remedial—not a message of peace, but measures fraught with the utmost danger—measures which must bear in time revolutionary fruits.
§ LORD MONCK
I wish, my Lords, to make a very few remarks on what has been said in the course of this debate with reference to the condition of Ireland. I think there has been a tacit assumption that the state of Ireland is worse than it in reality is. In some parts of Ireland undoubtedly outrages prevail, and they have for some time prevailed in a limited portion of that country. But if you look over the last twenty-five years you will find that at successive periods these identical portions of the country have exhibited the same system of lawlessness. If you examine the statistics of crime you will find that in several periods the condition of the country with respect to this kind of crime was much worse than at this moment. The noble Earl below me alluded to the different influences affecting the ordinary current of Irish society, and distinguished them into three classes—namely, the desire and agitation for a change of the law of landlord and tenant, the outrages which grow out of that desire and agitation, and the Fenian and revolutionary Press that exists in Dublin. With respect to the meetings in connection with the first of these—notwithstanding the language used at some of them, and which I do not for a moment attempt to justify—I, upon the whole, look on them as legitimate and constitutional exhibitions of public feeling, seeking in a constitutional manner to obtain redress of what the people conceived to be a grievance. With regard to the agrarian outrages, they are simply injurious to the best interests of the country, and to none more so than 54 to those who engage in them; but we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that they are mainly due to the refusal of Parliament for a series of years to redress grievances which all parties in this House admitted to exist. With regard to the third cause of disturbance—the existence of the revolutionary Press in Dublin—I must say I entertain a very strong feeling, and I trust that Her Majesty's Government will before long see their way to some effectual means of curbing the license of that Press. It is not a case of free discussion—it is a case in which the unhappy population of that country see only one side of the question and have no opportunity of knowing the answer that should be made to the deleterious doctrines of that Press. I believe that real danger to the country arises from the action of that Press, which ought in some way to be dealt with. But the question which has been raised to-night is, whether the Government is or is not deserving censure for not coming to Parliament to ask additional powers to repress agrarian outrages. Now, I trust I shall not be considered presumptuous if I say that I think this question demands somewhat broader treatment than it has received from the noble Earl. The question has been debated as a mere question of police—a question of the suppression of crime; but our view must extend beyond that. No doubt the Government are conservators of the public peace, and in that character ought to take the necessary means for the prevention of crime. But they are bound to look not merely to the present but to the future; and they are bound, in their endeavours to suppress present crime, not to adopt a policy which may have the effect of alienating from the law the affections of the people of that country. In the course of my reading I have found a speech delivered in this House some years ago, and which so fully and forcibly expresses my own feelings that I must ask permission to read a few extracts from it. The speaker says—Why is it that the ordinary law is in that island utterly powerless to protect the peaceable subject and to maintain good order? I believe every person who has at all attended to the situation of Ireland will at once say that the reason for this is that, unhappily, the whole body of the population are adverse to the administration of the law.Until that temper is altered it is in vain to 55 multiply Coercion Acts; it is quite impossible that by such means you can establish real security. The object must be to change their disposition. I ask you, my Lords, has the Coercion Bill any tendency to do so? Are the severe provisions which we are compelled to adopt when endeavouring to repress crime, while the population continue anmated by the spirit I have endeavoured to describe—are those severe provisions calculated to reconcile the people to the law, and bring them to look upon its Ministers as their friends instead of their enemies? I think no man will maintain such a proposition.Remember that the unhappy tendency of laws of this kind is to alienate from your Government all the Irishmen—constituting, as I hope and believe, a still numerous body—who understand and value constitutional liberty.To adopt such a measure is to drive into the ranks of your opponents such men as those, and you gain but little if you repress agitation by means which exasperate the feeling of hostility to our existing institutions which is really dangerous, and cause it to extend to thousands not before infected by it.I contend, then, that we must look further. We must look to the root of the evil, and we must see whether it is not possible to change the temper of the Irish population; to effect a reconciliation between them and their rulers; to make them the friends instead of the opponents of the administrators of the law. This I say is the object to which our efforts ought to be directed, and I say if those efforts are honestly directed to its accomplishment, I believe it is one not beyond our reach to attain.In the first place, then, in order to convince the people that the law really exists for their benefit, you must amend it both in its provisions and its administration, for I believe both are defective. I am persuaded that the law as it now exists in Ireland is inadequate to secure to the poor man, who cannot afford the cost of litigation, that justice to which he has a right. I believe it is more particularly so inadequate in those parts of the law which relate to the tenure of real property.As has been observed very recently by the Minister of the Crown who is more particularly responsible for the peace of Ireland—the Home Secretary—the state of the law, and the opinions of the people in respect to the tenancy and occupation of land, are at the root of the disorders by which the country is afflicted. I believe that the law as it now exists requires, and is susceptible of, improvement. I believe that the most frightful injustice can and does take place under it.We are also told that by the law as it now stands it happens, though I hope not very often, that when an industrious man has spent two or three years in improving a small allotment of ground, and has thus given a new value to it, depending upon it for the subsistence of himself and family, he can be, and at the pleasure of the landlord sometimes is, turned out to starve on the wide world. Can these things be? Is it possible they should exist and not create a strong feeling of exasperation in the minds of the peasantry?Not a day, not an hour ought to be lost in devising such a measure and bringing it before Parliament."—[3 Hansard, lxxxiv. 1352–1364.]56 Those words were uttered on the 23rd of March, 1846, by the noble Earl who spoke last but one (Earl Grey). What has been the course of Parliament during the twenty-four years which have elapsed in reference to this subject? Government after Government have brought in Bills in respect to the matter, discrediting in the eyes of a half-educated, but sensitive, people, the present state of the law, for they were informed that they had a grievance, and yet Parliament neglected to redress it. Can these things exist without creating in the minds of the peasantry of Ireland a bitter feeling of exasperation, and can Parliament, with a clear conscience, pass extra-constitutional and repressive measures for the prevention of crime which was directly due to their own neglect? I trust that the Bill to be brought in by the Government will realize the anticipation expressed in more forcible language than my own by the noble Earl to whom I have already referred, and who said—In framing that measure you must be prepared to go to considerable lengths, and to act not in the spirit of mere technical lawyers, but with the comprehensive views of statesmen; you must look to the principles of the public good on which the law of real property is founded, and not to conventional and technical notions as to the practice of that law. A reform conceived in that spirit is absolutely necessary, and I trust Her Majesty's Government will do their duty, and bring some such measure forward with the least possible delay."—[3 Hansard, lxxxiv. 1360.]I notice that at the conclusion of the Royal Speech the Government do not hesitate to say that if after passing remedial measures the tranquillity of the country is not restored, they will come to Parliament for additional powers. I for one would under such circumstances gladly support them, as I believe the majority of Ireland would support them, in that proceeding, because then it would be manifest that extra - constitutional measures were necessary for the purpose, not of stifling the demands of the people, but for assorting the supremacy of the law.
§ Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.